Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Must Have Apps Stuff for 2010

The iPad has been out for about half a year now and many pilots have found the device useful, some might even say invaluable. The perfect cockpit device has yet to be produced and clearly each pilot's personal preference will determine whether they continue to use paper charts or trust a stream of electrons. The iPad may not be perfect, but it offers numerous advantages for pilots and even more for flight instructors. Here's a round up of some apps, gadgets, procedures, and tricks that can help you harness the power of the iPad.

Head in the Clouds

Whether you're using DUATDUATSForeFlight, or AOPA's Flight Planner, getting a preflight weather briefing on the iPad is a no-brainer. Of course you'll need a 3G iPad with 3G coverage or WiFi access, but you can access almost all the data you could possibly want. For prolonged ground sessions, I've taken to using a kickstand for my iPad along with the battery-powered Apple Wireless Keyboard. This allows me to use my favorite Dvorak keyboard mapping, even though the iPad's touch keyboard layouts still don't support Dvorak.



Regular readers may recall the iPad kneeboard I created by modifying an aftermarket plastic case. Ten minutes with a Dremel tool and I had two slots through which I threaded an elastic band from an old kneeboard. Surprisingly, the price of this case has dropped to a mere $11.99 and now includes a clip-on kickstand.

Another iPad kneeboard solution I just learned about is the HandHolder for the iPad. While it costs a bit more, apparently it can be had with a longer strap for kneeboard use. What's more, this solution doesn't involve a case which may reduce the likelihood of the iPad overheating in hot weather.



I haven't used the HandHolder, but you can read nice review on Rick Felty's blog.

Charts 'n Stuff

I find the iPad as electronic flight bag works very well, in spite of some short-comings. I continue to be a big fan of SkyCharts Pro, which recently added Fly charts containing the reverse side of many VFR Terminal Area Charts that depict landmarks and VFR transitions around and through Class Bravo airspace. Compare a $19.99 one-time purchase price with subscriptions that can cost several times that per year and SkyCharts Pro is a most excellent value. Still, I'd like to see some SkyCharts Pro enhancements like:

  • Double-tapping on MOAs and prohibited/restricted airspace to reveal details
  • A method for measuring between arbitrary points on a chart
  • Separate buttons for selecting the type of chart (rather than one button that scrolls through all chart types)
  • The ability to store and recall frequently used routes


ForeFlight is a big contender in the EFB app market, though I use it more for preflight briefings and filing flight plans than I do in the cockpit. Compared to SkyCharts Pro's chart-based tap interface, locating and displaying terminal procedures with ForeFlight is convoluted enough that I tend to lose interest.

Jeppesen's new iPad app appears to let JeppView subscribers download and view terminal procedures. I've not yet used this product, but my understanding is that it doesn't currently provide a way to view en route charts. I have asked Jeppesen to provide a demo and I hope to post a review in the future.

Whatever you use as an EFB app, you'll need a plan B and a maybe even a plan C. My plan B is SkyCharts Pro on my iPhone and my plan C is a selection of a few paper charts. I use ReadyProcs to print out a small booklet of terminal procedures and airport diagrams that I can use if my two electronic solutions fail.



Take Note

Adopting the iPad as EFB has meant that I haven't used a single scrap of paper, thanks in no small measure to Penultimate, which lets you take notes using your fingertip as a pen. After some practice, it's become second nature to me. No more dropped pens or pencils, broken lead, or running out of ink. Sure my handwriting still sucks, but I have yet to misplace my right index finger.



The latest version of Penultimate offers a selection of different pen widths and several colors, making it even more useful as a miniature whiteboard in a teaching environment. Penultimate lets you create multiple notebooks and (edit 9/30/10: correcting my earlier post) allows you to name the notebooks. I like to keep a different notebook for each student, so naming each one let's me find the specific notebook I want.

Penultimate lets you email PDF versions of pages or entire notebooks. I've been using this feature to store notes and records using a web-based service called EverNote, which lets you organize most any type of data whether it be a PDF, a text file, a URL, or a sound or audio clip. This provides a valuable way to keep a record of training given without having to actually file pieces of paper.

Logging Time

LogTen for the iPhone runs just fine on the iPad, but Coradine says they'll soon release an iPad specific version of LogTen. Syncing the iPad with LogTen Pro on the Mac has gotten a lot better. And LogTen Pro makes it easy to answer weird questions like "How much night IFR time have you logged in a Bonanza in the last 120 days?" Logbook Pro now has an iPhone app that could be just the ticket for PC users, though I've not used it and cannot make any hard and fast claims.

Grace under Pressure

For weight and balance calculations, I've imported most of the Excel spreadsheets I had already developed into the Numbers application on my Mac and then transferred them to the iPad version. It works well, except there isn't anyway that I know of to protect cells in a spreadsheet you don't want changed: You best tap carefully.


You can also use CFI Tools Weight and Balance. Since I fly a bunch of different aircraft, entering the data for each aircraft is a bit tiresome. Also, the CFI Tools Takeoff and Landing Performance app can a big help, provided your aircraft type is supported.

'lectric Book Bag

The iPad can store a lot of books and I'm a big fan of the $0.99 app GoodReader for downloading, storing and viewing FAA books, practical test standards, and a lot of other useful data. A blog reader pointed me to the app iAnnotate as a way to view and annotate PDFs. I currently have several flight instructor candidates who all have decided to adopt the iPad. When it's time for them to practice teaching a lesson, we just electronically transfer the lesson plans from their iPad. iAnnotate lets me mark up each lesson plan, adding suggestions or corrections, and then email the annotated version to each instructor candidate. The word on the street is that GoodReader may soon support annotations, too.

Portable Classroom

If all the above capabilities aren't enough, consider the iPad's ability to display videos and display Keynote lectures.



In addition to weight and balance, the Numbers app is useful for tracking a pilot's training progress, using a spreadsheet based on the appropriate practical test standards.



On Schedule, In Touch

The iPad's built-in Safari web browser is useful for accessing web-based aircraft scheduling sites like AircraftClubs.com. If you have a MobileMe account, you can automatically sync your iCal calendar and AddressBook contacts, too. Throw in email capability and all you need is an administrative assistant for your portable electronic office.

Cash In

Many pilots tell me that the only checks they write these days seem to be for flight instruction. With everyone paying electronically, it was only a matter of time before an iPad solution was created. The one I've adopted is from SquareUp. The reader and account set-up is free and the transaction fees are a bit cheaper than most other services. Also, there's no monthly charge for SquareUp.

Though they had some growing pains, I finally received my Square Reader, which plugs into the audio port of all things. My first credit card transaction was last Sunday and I found swiping the card is a bit tricky. I recommend resting the iPad on a desk or table, holding the card reader with one hand and swiping the card with the other. The app then provides a space for the buyer to sign using their fingertip.

Rough Edges

Some users have reported problems with their iPad overheating in hot weather and I've seen this only once when the outside air temperature was showing 35˚C, I had left the display on continuously, and my iPad was in direct sunlight. I put the unit to sleep, moved it to the shade and redirected one of the wemac vents onto the iPad. After about 2 minutes, the iPad was back and by following some common sense precautions (turning off when not in use, keeping it out of direct sunlight, etc) it continued to operate. Folks who use the Apple iPad folio-style case seem to have more problems with overheating since that case seems to reduce conductive cooling. While flying yesterday with surface temperatures being reported at 40˚C, I had no overheating problems by following the common sense procedures described above.

Multi-tasking for the iPhone was released this past summer and iOS 4.2 slated to arrive for the iPad in November of 2010 and it can't arrive too soon. Switching between tasks like SkyCharts Pro and Penultimate will be a lot simpler with iOS 4.2. There is the option of jailbreaking your iPad and using non-approved software to provide multitasking, but I'm content to wait for an approved solution.

Must Have, For Now

For now, that's my brief round-up of must have apps and stuff for the iPad/iPhone. If you know of a cool new product you'd like to see reviewed, drop me a line.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Minimalist Pilot

Pilots tend to be gadget-meisters and it's not uncommon for us to obsess over headsets, watches, flashlights, kneeboards, timers, you name it. Yet there tends to be a lot of individual variation in what we do and don't like: One size usually doesn't fit all. Learning what works for you requires experimentation. Sometimes you buy and then regret, but sometimes you can learn from other pilots' experiences. I've decided to go with as little stuff as necessary and here are some thoughts on pursuing a minimalist approach by selecting essential, functional, and lightweight piloting paraphernalia.

New iPad Kneeboard

My decision to lighten my flight bag came about 3 months ago and was made possible by two factors. First is my headset of choice (Lightspeed Mach 1) is very compact and lightweight. But the most far-reaching development was my adoption of the iPad for virtually all of my charting and note-taking needs. Though there are a few back-up paper charts in my flight bag, I gave up using notepaper or a conventional kneeboard. Finding the appropriate way to mount or hold the iPad, now that's a challenge.


You may remember reading my review of Russ Sill's Tech Board, which I liked but found a bit too pricey. I ended up creating my own kneeboard solution using an aftermarket iPad case, but now Russ has announced a new iPro Aviator kneeboard that is much more cost effective and adds some new features like an integrated kickstand for tabletop viewing. The iPro Aviator goes on sale on November 1, 2010 for $79.95, but you can pre-order one for $59.95 until October 15, 2010 by clicking on this link.

Mini-Bag

After much searching for an inexpensive and minimalist iPad flight bag, I found a good fit in the Timbuktu Freestyle Notebook Messenger. It holds my headset, has a slot for my iPad, a pocket for my Xaon traffic detector, and has just enough room for the other essentials I carry. Make no mistake, this bag is small, but that challenges one to look for small accessories. And I like challenges!


Flashlight

The Petzl e+LITE LED headlamp is not cheap at about $25, but it offers a lot of performance in a small package. Weighing in at just 28 grams and taking up less space than a set of car keys allows me to carry two of these babies in my mini flight bag. The e+LITE runs for about 45 hours on two Lithium CR2032 batteries. You can wear it around your head, dangle it around your neck, or clip it to the bill of your hat or most any other thin, flat surface. It offers two brightness setting for white light and a red setting for critical night vision situations.



Vision is Everything

Speaking of vision, getting older means one's eyes are not as willing to focus as they used to, a condition known as presbyopia. Once you've entered your fourth decade, you'll start to notice the effects. One simple solution is to buy over-the-counter reading glasses, but if you also wear lenses for distant vision this can be a pain. Prescription bi-focals, tri-focals, and progressive lenses can be a help, but a pilot's need for sunglasses further complicates the situation. Carrying several pairs of glasses does not fit with the minimalist approach at all.

My solution for many years was contact lenses for distant vision with glasses worn over the contacts for near vision. The glasses were progressive readers with transition lenses that darken in bright light. This worked okay, but progressive lenses have a lot of distortion in the peripheral field. What's more, you have to tilt your head just right to focus through the part of the reader lens that is appropriate for what you're trying to read or observe.

When I read about TruFocals I was intrigued by the design and, at the same time, skeptical. TruFocals are constructed with two layers of lenses: The outer lenses are made to your prescription and the inner lenses are a silcone-filled lens that can change focus by moving a small slider located on the bridge. While they are expensive, TruFocals come with a 30-day money back guarantee. So I gave them a try and after just a couple of days, I was a believer.


I purchased TruFocals with transition lenses that darken in sunlight and that means I now wear just one pair of glasses. I carry a back-up set of glasses in my flight bag and that's it. The clarity of vision is very good with none of the peripheral distortion of progressive lenses. In flight I find I'm often spotting other aircraft that pilots I'm flying with (usually many years my junior) don't see. At night, I can adjust the focus to be just right for viewing a G1000 screen from the right seat. And no, I don't find reaching up to adjust the focus to be particularly distracting. TruFocals come in just one frame design because the silicone-filled lenses must be round. They look a bit Harry Potter-ish, but utility is more important to me than vanity. Perhaps I need a lightning bolt scar tattooed on my right temple ...

So that's a brief round-up of a few ways to go minimalist. If you have discovered ways to lighten your flight bag and simplify your flight gear, as Ross Perot said, "I'm all ears!"

Friday, September 17, 2010

Privileged to Fly

The beginning of the New Year is a time when many of us look back, take stock of what's happened, and look forward. There are other important dates, anniversaries, birthdays, graduations, deaths. Some prominent dates for pilots include the expiration of their flight review and their medical certificate. If you're over 40 years of age or if you hold a 1st or 2nd class medical, you get used to your medical certificate expiring more often. If you've ever had your medical certificate denied or revoked, the medical expiration date takes on even more significance, reminding you how precious our flying privileges are.

It's been nearly one year since I was awarded a special issuance 2nd class medical certificate after waiting out a one year "recovery" period. A lot has happened in the intervening months.

I'm 25 pounds lighter, within the "average" Body Mass Index for my height.

My total cholesterol dropped over 45 points and my HDL/LDL readjusted to levels considered healthy, all without taking statins. Diet and exercise worked for me. Being mostly vegetarian to start with, the key seemed to be giving up cheese and most milk products, though I still occasionally partake.

In the last year I logged just under 500 hours compared with 210 hours during my year sans medical certificate. And if you're wondering if it is legal for an instructor to teach without a medical, the answer is "yes," you just can't do so in situations that require you to act as pilot-in-command.

The most fun in the last year was flying a C441 Conquest for a few hours, doing aerial survey. Flying in the flight levels in pressurized, climate-controlled comfort, above the weather, at 280+ knots - what's not to like? The aerial survey part was tedious and tiring, but still.

Other miscellaneous statistics:
Candidates recommended - 1 private, 1 commercial, 1 instrument, 1 CFI
Wings flights given - 9
Flight Reviews given - 8
Instrument Proficiency Checks given - 5
Types of aircraft flown - 12

The clouds on my horizon have to do with renewing my special issuance certificate, which is only good for 12 calendar months: It does not revert to a 3rd class after a year. The letter I received from the FAA last year explained what was required for renewal, so I started the process in July. There were delays in getting the required examination, but by the last week of August I had the doctor's report. By the way, these reports have to be current within 60 days of the day you apply for a medical certificate.

I promptly faxed the doctor's favorable report to the FAA's medical certification folks, waited 10 days, and then called to see where things stood. The good news is they received the report, the bad news is they can't guarantee they'll be able to review it before the end of September. So rather than waiting for a letter that would give my medical examiner permission to issue a certificate after performing the required exam, I chose to get the exam knowing it would be deferred back to the FAA in Oklahoma City. The exam went well, I learned I was a couple of pounds lighter, with a low resting pulse rate and normal blood pressure. Now all the paperwork is in the FAA's hands and all I can do is wait.

Several people have expressed and continue to express incredulity that I reported the medical problem to the FAA in the first place. We live in a culture that tells us we don't have to play by the rules as long as we don't get caught and in a hyper-competitive environment, it's natural to look for ways to get ahead. One way is to opt out and the thought process, to the extent that higher-level thought actually takes place, goes something like this: "These rules/regulations/laws are really inconvenient/outdated/stupid. I'm really smart/savvy/well-educated and I know better, so I'm just going to do what I want or think is best." One colleague told tell me they respected me for choosing to disclose what happened and that they thought it took guts. That meant a lot to me.

My hope is that I will get a new medical certificate before my current certificate expires at the end of September. I have called Oklahoma City a few times and will call once a week until this is resolved. When I informed the last person I spoke with that I need a medical certificate in order to work, they seemed unmoved. I'm just a one of many cases they have to sort through. Next year, my hope is that I will be allowed to return to a normal medical issuance process and we all live for hope.

Don't wait for New Year's Eve to take stock of what's happen or think ahead to the future. Just sit down with your logbook, look back through the pages, count the landings, the aircraft flown, recall the people who flew with you, the aircraft check-outs, and the check rides. Make plans for your flying future. Get a tailwheel endorsement, earn a new certificate or rating, share the joy of flight with a friend, split safety pilot duties with another instrument pilot, or transport an ill child to their chemotherapy treatment. The world is your oyster when you have the privilege to fly.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Lost Summer

Some Bay Area residents thought the summer of 2009 was unseasonably cool, but the summer of 2010 was the coolest I can remember since arriving here nearly 25 years ago. We did get a few hot days and the contrasts were startling. Several weeks of cool, gray skies, then two days in a row of no sea breeze, clear skies, and 95 degree F highs, then back to 60 degrees and cloudy.

Here are some photos of a recent IFR training flight I taught when it looked more like January than early September.

Heading 310, radar vectors ...
Must be Orinda down there.
CCR Runways barely visible on the left edge.
Vectors for the LDA 19R
Near SABLO @ 4000'
OAT dropped to 6 degrees C near GROVE. Summer?
Reminds me of Caravan driving at Xmas time.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

GPS Transition, Part III: Conservation of Complexity


Some folk seem to think that if GPS navigation is simple, then something must be done to make it more ... difficult.  Let's call this the Conservation of Complexity Principal: An area of aviation reaches a level of complexity causing pilots, instructors, examiners, inspectors, and even engineers and designers to feel compelled to maintain or even increase that level of complexity. Simplicity should be a primary goal in systems design and it is unfortunate when we mistake increased complexity for progress. Newer glass panel aircraft have a ton of features, some crucial, some cool, and some seldom-used “gee whiz” features. RNAV procedures and equipment are also cool, they provide much flexibility and increased accuracy, but they are mired in a confusing swamp of details. Here are some thoughts on embracing the essentials while eschewing the geeky.

Can You Top This?

Needless complexity comes into the picture when equipment and procedure designers, probably under time pressure, jump to a quick solution. Some hardware manufacturers, hoping to establish market differentiation, end up designing too many features into their products. Some pilots, instructors and examiners embrace this geeky stuff without any clear evidence that knowing lots of minutiae in any way enhances learning, proficiency, or safety. Requiring pilots to understand and recite facts about the GPS satellite constellation or to describe the Line-Replacable Units that make up the G1000 and how they communicate with one another has few clear advantages, other than making it easy to test a candidate’s knowledge of the nitty-gritty.

It may be interesting to know the model designations of each G1000 component and the network media used to connect them, but what does that have to do with effectively managing the technology in newer aircraft while flying single-pilot? At it's worst, teaching detailed systems knowledge may encourage pilots to try to figure out why something has failed while in flight, resulting in a distraction that can adversely affect the safety of flight. If a GPS or one of its components fails during flight, the pilot needs to recognize the failure and understand the extent to which their ability to navigate has been affected. Then they can get the aircraft safely on the ground and have an avionics tech diagnose and fix the problem. Acquiring and maintaining complex, systems-level knowledge of the G1000 is not needed unless you plan on repairing the hardware yourself.

Papier-mâché Unicorn

RNAV procedures and policies have grown up over time with the added challenge that they be made to exist with existing VOR/NDB procedures and policies. Add a little here, a little there and after a decade you stand back to look at what’s been created. Voila! It’s a unicorn! In defense of the FAA, a tremendous number of new RNAV procedures have been created and the majority of them for other than Part 139 airports (i.e. GA airports). Nevertheless, mistakes were made.

Charting complexities add tiny bits of workload in a single-pilot environment. Approaches have titles like RNAV (GPS) RWY 22, but then there are obscure rules that say any item contained in parenthesis is to be omitted. There are variations and inconsistencies in terminal arrival areas, the depiction of minimum safe altitudes, required equipment, important details buried in notes, and even special climb performance on the missed approach. Trying to keep all of this straight while flying single-pilot may seem like death by a thousand cuts and can contribute to creeping task saturation. Here’s an approach for an airport in my area that was published and then quickly NOTAM’d as not authorized. Hmm ...



Need to Know

GPS units like the G1000 offer a plethora features, leading many pilots to mistakenly believe they need to understand all of the bells and whistles. Many pilots see this morass of details and just turn away. So here’s some heresy for you: You don't need to understand every single feature. It is possible to get along just fine without knowing how to get your GPS to add an along-track-offset or display a parallel track. Once you understand the basic concepts of waypoint navigation, GPS flight plans, automatic waypoint sequencing, turn anticipation, and how to load procedures, you can hone your skills using the concise list of tasks that every pilot should be able to accomplish with their GPS under instrument flight rules, found in the AIM (1-1-19(p)).


  1. Perform a RAIM prediction function
  2. Insert a DP into the flight plan
  3. Program the destination airport
  4. Fly an overlay approaches (especially procedure turns and arcs)
  5. Change to another approach after selecting an approach
  6. Fly "direct" missed approaches
  7. Fly "routed" missed approaches
  8. Enter, fly, and exit holding patterns
  9. Program and fly a "route" from a holding pattern
  10. Program and fly an approach with radar vectors to the intermediate segment
  11. Handle a RAIM failure both before and after the FAWP
  12. Program a radial and distance from a VOR (often used in departure instructions)

Devil in the Details

At the heart of every GPS receiver is a computer running software and as the late John Ciardi said, "Computers are high-speed morons." GPS database designers encode airports using a four-character ICAO identifier and VORs with a three-character identifier. In some cases, the VOR is located on an airport with the same name and identifier, often not far from the surveyed center of the airport. The FAA's charting division needs to clean up their act and use four-character ICAO airport identifiers on their chart products. This one simple change would make everyone’s life easier, but as of this writing the Aeronav folks haven't gotten around to it.

If you fly RNAV approaches with an IFR-certified WAAS GPS, you’ll need to be prepared to fly up to one of three different minima on an approach - LPV, LNAV/VNAV, or LNAV. You also need to correlate the course sensitivity a GPS displays during an RNAV approach to the correct minima shown on the approach chart (LPV = LPV and LNAV/V = LNAV/VNAV). If your GPS is not WAAS capable, you’ll only get LNAV minima and your life is simpler.

This brings up a question that many renter pilots have a hard time answering: How do you know if the plane you just rented has a WAAS GPS or a non-WAAS GPS? There’s nothing on the face of the GPS unit that tells you this, you have to consult the Approved Flight Manual Supplement.



Another way is to bring up the satellite status display and if you see a “D” in one or more of the satellite signal strength histogram bars, the unit is a WAAS GPS. What does the “D” stand for, you ask? “Differential GPS,” another subtle and annoying mental connection you must make. On G1000 models you also see the term SBAS (Satellite-Based Augmentation System) instead of WAAS.



Non-WAAS GPS units detect navigational errors with a process called RAIM (Receiver Autonomous Integrity Monitoring), which is analogous to seeing a flag appear on your VOR course deviation indicator or HSI to indicate the station is unusable. WAAS GPS units use a different error detection process called FDE (Fault Detection and Exclusion), another good reason for knowing exactly what kind of unit resides in the instrument panel of the aircraft you just rented or may be thinking of buying.

Updates to GPS databases are made available every 28 days, database subscriptions are not cheap, and downloading and applying the updates can be time-consuming. These are the costs of doing GPS business and if you fly at night, over remote areas, or in the clouds, you don't want an out-of-date database. Many feel that the costs of database updates has gotten out of control, especially when an aircraft owner must have multiple database subscriptions for the same model of GPS unit installed in the one aircraft. Glass panel aircraft may have numerous other databases, often with differing expiration dates. When the tension between being safe and legal collides with saving time and money, databases don’t get updated and renter pilots need to be prepared. The plane you just rented may have lots of glass in its panel, but if the GPS aeronautical database isn’t updated the plane goes from “/G” to “/U”



Wither ERAM?

Last, but not least, is the FAA’s continuing struggle to provide IFR clearances that take advantage of the capability of the most basic GPS receiver. One of the problems has to do with FAA flight plan formats because there is only so much information about an aircraft’s type of RNAV equipment that can be encoded in a single letter, like “/G.” ICAO flight plans provide much needed detail on just what level of RNAV capability an aircraft does or does not have. ICAO flight plans are now required for aircraft that desire RNAV departures. Even if you don’t file an ICAO flight plan, you can request and get an amended clearance to proceed direct to a waypoint or VOR once you’re airborne, but that means reprogramming a GPS flight plan in flight. Not just occasionally, but every time.

At the crux of this problem is the FAA’s computerized system for generating clearances that hasn’t changed in years. The new ERAM (En Route Automation Modernization) system was supposed to change all that, but it doesn’t seem to be working out very well at the moment. I’ve tried filing all sort of routings out of KOAK using ICAO flight plans with various routing strategies, but I always get the same routings. Having a technically advanced aircraft with all sorts of accurate, flexible navigational capabilities doesn’t count for much if the ATC computers are not prepared to play ball.

The best bet still seems to be using your local knowledge of what ATC usually assigns or use one of the many briefing services (FltPlan.com, ForeFlight, FlightAware.com) that can tell you what routing has recently assigned to your destination. Use that routing on your flight plan and once airborne, start asking and negotiating a more direct routing with the controller. Kasparov may have been beaten by a chess-playing computer, but it seems ATC professionals are still more flexible and creative in the aviation chess game.

Hits Just Keep Coming

Now that you understand the basics of GPS navigation, the features that were supposed to make your piloting tasks easier, you should be better equipped to learn the complexities of your particular model of GPS so you can bend it to your will. Stick with the basics, practice those tasks listed in the AIM, and you should have fewer moments of GPS confusion. You might even find that if you hold you nose, bite your tongue, and cross your fingers you’ll find that GPS navigation is not really all that bad. Eventually one hopes that the FAA and the equipment manufacturers will see the error of their ways, fix the screwed up user interfaces and develop strategies to smooth out the significant RNAV wrinkles (or at least keep more wrinkles from appearing). Until they do, take heart in what Dos Passos observed: There are things that could be more, but are content to be less.